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Types of Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know

woman measuring her blood glucose levels managing her diabetes

This month we are highlight the importance of diabetes education and management for Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 9.3% of the US population has diabetes, and of that over 95% have type 2 diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to control high levels of glucose i.e. blood sugar. When there’s an excess of glucose in the blood, it can cause you to lose too much water from your body and lead to an array of symptoms like increased thirst, excessive fatigue, quick and unexplained weight loss, and the frequent urge to go to the bathroom, also known as hyperglycemia.

It can be difficult to determine the differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes for those whom are not aware of what the disease is and what it does to the body.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2?

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is commonly seen and diagnosed in children around the age of adolescence. Insulin is used to help our bodies absorb glucose into our muscles, a necessary nutrient for maintaining optimum health. Those with type 1 diabetes have to take external insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

  • Genetic factors that affect your body’s ability to produce or utilize insulin
  • Family history of type 1 diabetes
  • Exposure to childhood infections such as the mumps
  • Medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can also be caused by someone inheriting a gene that makes them more susceptible to developing it. However, in most cases it’s caused by a combination of poor lifestyle factors like chronic inactivity, obesity, and excessive sitting. People with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, however it may be in insufficient amounts or their body doesn’t utilize it properly, also known as insulin resistance.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Some medications such as anti-seizure drugs
  • Current or former smoker
  • Obesity

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes because it is a flaw in the function of the immune system. Type 2 diabetes is preventable when the necessary healthy steps are taken. Some people affected by type 2 diabetes may find that they don’t need to take insulin or test their blood sugar levels if they maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising, losing weight and eating healthy foods. Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of amputation. It is important to notify your doctor if you notice slow or non-healing wounds on your legs or feet.

The link between diabetes and vascular disease

Not only do people with diabetes have to actively manage their blood sugar levels, but they also have to be aware of a condition known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). In fact, the American Diabetes Association states that 1 in 3 people with diabetes over the age of 50 has PAD. Peripheral artery disease occurs when arteries located within the lower extremities become either partially or fully blocked by plaque buildup. Left untreated, PAD can cause critical limb ischemia (CLI) which can lead to amputation.

Many people with PAD will not experience any symptoms; however some, may experience pain in the leg, thigh, calf, or buttocks. This pain may make climbing stairs, walking long distances, or standing for an extended amount of time close to impossible. PAD only get worse over time, so it is crucial that it is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

What are my next steps?

If you have diabetes, you could be at increased risk of developing peripheral artery disease. If you want to know more about preventative methods, or if you are interested in learning about the different treatments that are available for PAD, reach out to us at 888.768.3467. Don’t feel like calling? Click here to schedule your appointment online today.

#DiabetesAwarenessMonth #PADAwareness

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